BAHA visits Melsbroek
On Easter Saturday about 40 BAHA-members were invited to visit Melsbroek Airbase, home of the 15th Transport Wing and its Dakota Documentation Centre. Omer “Boomer” Vanden Bosch, technician on Dassault Falcon and Embraer Regional Jet aircraft acted as host. At first glance Easter Saturday is a somewhat unusual day for a visit to a military airbase. According to “Boomer”, however, long weekends are the best opportunity to find at least some of the heavy transport aircraft of No. 20 Squadron and most of the passenger jets of No. 21 Squadron at their home base. And so it was.
A photographic impression.
Because of missions in among others Afghanistan, Congo, Lebanon and Kosovo, many Hercules transport aircraft were “on the road”. Both Airbus A.310s, however, were present, and in flying condition. One returned from a mission abroad, the other made a three hours long test flight. In the morning, a technical crew was working on one the Hercules outside, proving that the 15th Wing is always busy keeping its aircraft as available as is possible for such maintenance-intensive old birds.
Embraer ERJ-135 CE-01 was the only aircraft of No. 21 Squadron on the apron. All others were accommodated in one of the many hangars at Melsbroek Airbase to protect them from the harsh weather conditions.
Without doubt the showpiece of No. 21 Squadron’s “white fleet” is Dassault Falcon 900B CD-01. And the interior is even more beautiful!
Both Dassault Falcon 20E jets were upgraded in 2004. A modern glass cockpit, a new comfortable cabin and a pair of environmental friendly fuel efficient silent Garret TFE-731-5BR-2C engines give the aircraft a second life. The modernised aircraft are known under the designation Falcon 20-5 and can be recognised externally by the larger engine nacelles and the satellite communications aerial on top of the fuselage. The engines are of the same type as those of the Falcon 900, reducing the volume of spare part stocks and the number of engine specialists in the unit.
An extra for the civil aviation fans were the spectacular take-offs from Zaventem’s Brussels International Airport.
Dakota is the Documentation Centre of the 15th Wing. It is located in the Groenveld barracks, just across the street from Melsbroek Airbase.
Dakota not only has a wealth of information on the history of Melsbroek Airbase and of the 15th Wing, but also has a number of artefacts to illustrate this history, like this cockpit of a Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar transport aircraft.
Percival P.66 Pembroke C.51 RM-7 OT-ZAG (c/n P66/0027) and Fairchild C-119G Flying Boxcar CP-10 OT-CAJ (c/n 1069) have been restored by volunteers of Dakota and are now displayed in open air at the Lt-kol U. Dewit Square in the Groenveld barracks.
The enthusisast group of BAHA members participating at the very interesting base visit.
Boomer, many thanks for the extraordinary day!
* * *
Text and pictures by
© Jos Schoofs (March 2008)
Last updated 18/08/09 11:39 Daniel Brackx